Saturday, March 14, 2015

Magic starts with a pen: How writing saves lives

How could a simple pen create magic?

A pen creates magic when it manifests words that heal the soul. It becomes a tool of healing – of surviving – of saving someone from dying.

My younger brother is battling cancer since he turned 21. His symptoms started to show up, four years ago, the day when my maternal grandmother died.

Months after grandma’s burial, that my brother failed to attend because he was still confined in the hospital with high fever and failing immune system, we finally found out that he has Stage 3B Lymphoma – cancer of the lymph nodes.

When my dad learned about it, he had a stroke. He stayed in the hospital’s ICU for seven days in a comma and with paralyzed left side of the body.

Suddenly, our life became like the TV dramas I hate so much because of their exaggerated plots. Someone in the family just died then, out of the blue a family member learned he has cancer and has only a few days to live. While he is suffering from that thought of dying soon, his father is in a comma not knowing whether or not he’ll wake up on time to see his son before doomsday. Who the hell has such a f**ked up life?

Yeah, I know. I did and I still do. While writing this, our youngest is in the emergency room, waiting while in pain for the doctor’s verdict whether he’ll need to get his gallbladder removed or not. This happens just three days after our mom was diagnosed with possible brain tumor.

But how do I go on living? Where do I get my strength to continue fighting?

I choose not to die in grief. I choose not to be alone, even though there were so many times I felt I am.

Having faith to whoever or whatever we believe in helps. But there are also times when you need something tangible – something you may touch – something you may grip so damn hard when you feel like you’re hanging at the edge of the cliff.

Every time I am about to fall into that pit of endless sorrow, I hold on to my pen so tight. My pen never let me go; instead it let go of all the anger, all the fears and all the tears.

Writing saves me the same way it saved the Black-American Writer Jamaica Kincaid: 
She says, “I became a writer out of desperation, so when I first heard my brother was dying. I was familiar with the act of saving myself: I would write about him, I would write about his dying. When I was young, younger than I am now, I started to write about my own life and I came to see that this act  saved my life. When I heard about my brother’s illness and his dying, I knew, instinctively, that to understand it, or to make an attempt at understanding his dying, and not to die with him, I would write about it.” My Brother (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

Author: Irish Angelica Burrage